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If the practice of daily meditation is regarded as a sort of bugbear by not a few clerics, it must be because they have confounded form with substance, or mistaken the shell for the kernel. It should be obvious to any educated man that the statement, "I can't meditate," is in sober earnestness fully as nonsensical as the statement, "I can't think.” For, after all, that is essentially what meditating means, thinking, or, as the prophet Jeremiah phrases it, "considering in the heart.” Now, no priest presumably would care to have his mental calibre qualified in such terms as Sir Henry Irving once applied to an overbearing crossexamining barrister. The great actor, having begun his answer to a question by saying, “Well, I think—" was interrupted by the cross-examiner. "We don't want to hear what you think, sir; we want what you know.”—“Pardon me," replied Sir Henry, "am I not allowed to think in answering these questions ?”—“No, sir; decidedly not.”—“In that case," said the actor incisively, “I may as well retire. I can't talk without thinking: I'm no lawyer.” The priest who can coördinate his thoughts sufficiently well to hold a sane conversation, write a sensible letter, or preach a good sermon, can assuredly meditate, if only he has the will to do so. True, he may not rise to the heights of contemplation, be lost in ecstasy, or be carried like St. Paul to the third heaven; but, then, no masters of the spiritual life expect him to undergo such experiences. What they do expect of him, and what they declare he cannot safely neglect, is a daily private devotional act consisting in delib

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erate reflection upon some spiritual truth or mystery, accompanied by acts of the affections and the will, especially the formation of resolutions as to future conduct.

Books of set meditations, with their formal divisions of preludes, points, considerations, applications, affections, resolutions, colloquies, and spiritual nosegays, are meant to serve the purpose of helps, not hindrances, to mental prayer; and it is quite possible to meditate thoroughly well without having recourse to them at all. They are especially useful, of course, to beginners; but even a beginner need not deem it essential to go systematically and rigorously through all the three points provided for him. If a thought occurring in the first of those points, or even in the preludes, appeals to him in a special way and enchains his attention, he may profitably confine his reflection and pondering to the salutary ideas which it evokes and take practical resolutions in accordance therewith, without scruple about his neglecting the subsequent considerations set forth in the book. It is probably true to say, and it is consoling to think, that a good many priests who habitually fail to “make their morning meditation,” do as a matter of fact meditate considerably at odd times during the day. Thinking seriously of God and the things of God, reflecting on the eternal truths, deliberating as to one's spiritual interests, putting one's self in the presence of God and uttering a silent heart-cry for additional strength to be in the world and not of it, dwelling on some of the scenes in the passion of our Lord—all such action as this

is, if not formal meditation, at least a substantial and commendable equivalent therefor, be it accomplished where or when it may. And yet, the formal daily morning exercise in mental prayer is strongly to be recommended to all the clergy: at the very least it will be a meritorious exterior mortification.

Much the same plea may be made for the priest's frequent-weekly, if not daily-performance of the pious exercise known as "going round the Stations.” The Way of the Cross is both an exterior mortification in itself and an incentive to other penitential practices. Performed with deliberate thought and attention, the exercise may readily outvalue the most fervent meditation; and, even when interrupted by frequent distractions, can scarcely fail to exert a salutary influence on the soul of him who is with abundant reason called alter Christus. Priests like other men can be, and often are, inconsistent in a variety of ways; but it is doubtful that there exists such a living paradox as a priest who habitually makes the Way of the Cross, and yet lives otherwise a tepid life.

To mention just one other practice very generally recommended to the clergy, and likely to be considered by those of them who have not yet adopted it a downright, unequivocal mortification-obedience to a detailed, individual rule of life is an approved aid to rapid progress in sacerdotal perfection. Nor is the practice so negligible, at least in the opinion of some spiritual writers, as many a cleric is apt to consider it. In his preface to the life of St. John Baptist de Rossi, for instance, the Bishop of Salford writes: “A rule of life is so necessary for a secular priest that, if he thinks because he is not a monk he may live with his mind all abroad, by impulse and without rule, or if he knows that he has not sufficient selfmastery to lead a life of rule by himself, let him be well assured that he has no vocation to be a secular priest, because his salvation will ever be in fearful jeopardy, and his fall may be heard of any day.” The statement may be thought somewhat exaggerated, but it certainly contains more truth than extravagance. “If you live according to rule,” says St. Gregory, “you live according to God,” suggesting the inference that a rule is essential to right living. In any case, a personal rule of life observed with fidelity is a commendable form of exterior mortification, of penitential exercises such as all priests have need of; and an excellent reason why a diocesan cleric should practice this specific kind of self-denial is that it makes him resemble the religious, of whom St. Bernard does not hesitate to say that, as compared with others, "he lives more purely, falls more rarely, rises more promptly, walks more cautiously, receives graces more abundantly, reposes more securely, dies more hopefully, is cleansed more speedily, and is rewarded more plentifully.” So may it be with every priest who gives due place in his scheme of life to works of exterior mortification!


I became all things to all men that I might save all.—1 Cor.: ix, 22.

And other sheep I have that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.–St. John: X, 16.

For my own part, I have always looked upon the entire population of the village as belonging to my parish, endeavoring to bear in mind St. Augustine's illuminating distinction between the body and the soul of the Church.-From *Within My Parish.


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tical purposes sufficiently descriptive of the paper's contents, it is so far inaccurate as to warrant the statement that by the term "non-Catholics" is meant those who are outside the visible body of the Church. That not all of these are beyond the Church's invisible pale is a commonplace of theology, although it appears to be forgotten or ignored by an occasional Catholic preacher who expatiates on the traditional dictum, "Extra ecclesiam nulla salus." There is no minimizing of Catholic doctrine in the assertion that it is quite possible for professing Protestants to be in good faith; there is rather undue rigorism, to say nothing of a reprehensible lack of charity, in declaring that they all are, and must be, in bad faith. “Those," says Spirago, "who are brought up in Protestantism, and have no opportunity of obtaining a sufficient instruction in the Catholic religion, are not heretics in the sight of God, for in them there is no obstinate denial or doubt of the truth. They are no

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